First You Die: Chapter One
First You Die, Chapter One: Sonia's Choice
I am submitting to Stickman the longest short story ever. It is so long in fact (over seventy-five-thousand words), that I have broken it down into twenty-one chapters, which will appear-The Stick willing- for the next twenty-one weeks. The chapters will be titled and numbered in case you tune in late and want to go back to the beginning.
The story is called ‘First You Die.’ I think that each chapter can stand alone and may even nudge you into reading the next one.
Chapter One: Sonia’s Choice
Warning bells rang in Sonia’s head as the man pushed past her into the restaurant. She was even more disturbed to see his face. He was definitely Asian, probably Thai, with a flat nose made flatter and pushed to the side by repeated battering. She had just unlocked the door to let the last two lingering and in love customers leave. The downtown New York City streets were deserted at two-thirty in the morning.
‘I’m sorry, we’re closed.’ She stood by the door waiting for him to go.
‘That’s all right, I won’t be long.’ He did not turn around to look at her as he spoke. The man’s legs were slightly apart and his arms bulged out from his expensive double-breasted suit as he surveyed the now empty room.
There was a long mahogany bar running along the wall on the right and about thirty tables in the dining room. The chairs were covered with fabric in a bright design of green leaves and coconut trees.
‘Please go then.’ Sonia walked past him, her high heels making clicking sounds on the oyster-tiled floor. She wore a tight-fitting long sleeved black silk dress with a mandarin collar closed around her neck. Red embroidered silk threads curled along the front of the dress, down the length of it, almost to the floor. The dress had a slit in front and in the back of the skirt. Sonia’s long legs pushed the fabric aside as she sauntered along side of the bar.
‘I have a message for you.’ The man took a few steps closer.
‘Let me have it, then leave.’
‘It’s from Johnny Wou,’ the man smiled. It was a leering, malicious smile.
‘Never heard of him.’
‘I think you have.’
Sonia was concerned. This was not good news. She wanted to put some distance between her and the man. She moved behind the bar.
‘I suppose you want a drink.’ Sonia smiled as she turned and pulled a bottle of Remy from the back shelf, glancing at the man in the long gilt-framed mirror that covered the wall and reflected his image along with the higher priced liquor bottles. ‘Or would you prefer Cordon Bleu?’
‘You’re Soopies aren’t you?’ The man spoke in Thai now.
‘Yes, but here they call me Sonia she replied in the same language.
The man moved closer to the bar. ‘You have a debt to pay and I’m here to collect it. You interfered in Khun Wou’s business in Bangkok and you shouldn’t have done that.’
‘So he sent you twelve-thousand miles to tell me that?’
‘Don’t flatter yourself. You’re not even a speck of rice on the way to a banquet. We have much more important business here than you.’
‘You know, you nak-leng are all alike. Get some money, buy fancy suits- have them cut tight, show off your muscles.’ Sonia shook her head in disapproval. ‘You’re too stupid to realize that you still look like gangsters. Cut the bullshit and get to the point.’
‘Funny you should say that.’ The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a length of thick black rubber. He pushed his thumb into it and flicked his wrist. A gray blade sprang out, the edge sparkled in the light.
‘As for your debt, your lips will do for a start. The only question is, shall I cut your throat first or later-after I cut into your face?’ The man smiled as he moved closer, standing right up against the bar. He liked this part of it-when
they realized they were going to die.
They started to tremble and shake. He loved to see the expressions on their faces, the fear in their eyes.
‘Rick is upstairs, if I scream he’ll be right down.’
‘I know he’s at your apartment. My people are going to kill him too.’
Sonia’s face widened with concern. This was more like it. This is what he expected and wanted.
Sonia looked at the shelf under the bar-at the baseball bat next to the fielder’s glove and softball. The glove and ball were just for show, like you were actually going to go out and play ball on a busy street in lower Manhattan. It was Rick’s
idea, the glove and ball, an excuse for the bat. She realized that the bat would be worthless against a man like this.
‘Let me put on some lipstick first.’ Sonia took a tan crocodile leather case from the lower shelf and placed it on the bar. It was about half the size of a laptop computer with shiny gold hinges and clasps. She unsnapped the clasps and lifted the top. Sonia looked down into the box trying to make up her mind.
The man was puzzled. Was this girl an idiot? Didn’t she understand what was going to happen? Completely stupid, was what she was, he thought.
The Sig-Sauer P239 was almost nestled into its foam rubber compartment, but the hammer was back, preventing a snug fit. The space cut out for the clip was empty. The container full of flat-nosed .357 cartridges was already in the weapon. This model Sig-Sauer was called a personal protection handgun because of its compact size; the barrel was only 3.6 inches long and the total length of the automatic, a mere 6.6 inches. Rick had told her that a gun that wasn’t ready to fire was much worse than useless, it was dangerous. Sonia did not have a carry permit and had to take the pistol to the West Side Pistol Range in a locked box. She ignored the rule about the gun being unloaded during transport.
Sonia looked at the red dot exposed on the side of the weapon.
‘Now let me see, I think bright red would be about right, don’t you think?’
The man held the knife higher, smirking. ‘Don’t try to run. It will do you no good. I’m very fast.’ He was hoping that she would indeed run and scream, become hysterical as he slashed her face to pieces. He shivered a bit with the delicious excitement of it.
Sonia was still wondering if she should shoot him through the top of the case or take the pistol all of the way out. She decided as she snapped the top down and grinned. ‘Oh good. You mean you’re fast like Superman, faster than a speeding bullet?’
She held the pistol in her right hand with her left hand cupped underneath it, just like the instructor had taught her. “Three in the chest,” he had said. “If you shoot them once and they survive, you’ll get sued from here to kingdom-come. They can have a record as long as your arm and you’ll still have to hire a lawyer and go to court if they live. If you shoot someone, do it right, give ’em three in the chest. Their chances of surviving that are pretty slim.”
Sonia only pointed the pistol at him rather than aimed it. She couldn’t miss at this range. She had her eyes glued to his- watching his face. His expression changed from anticipation to apprehension to disappointment as he reached up with his other hand, snapped the knife shut and stepped back a few feet.
‘No problem, I have plenty of time. I’ll be back.’
‘No, you won’t.’ Sonia pulled the trigger as fast as she could, the gun kicking her hand up, two bullets bursting into the Thai man’s chest-the man pushed backwards with the force of it.
Sonia was slightly disconcerted as she knew that she was supposed to shoot him three times, but he fell onto the floor before she could get off a third shot. She wondered for a moment if she should walk over and shoot him again; the instructor hadn’t said what to do if this happened. Never mind-she was worried about Rick.
Sonia ran to the front of the restaurant and grabbed one of the phones on the maitre d’ stand. She stabbed in her home number, her hand shaking with anxiety. There was a busy signal. Could the phone be off the hook? Who could he be talking to at
this time in the morning? She hung up and hit redial. Please answer Ricky; please answer she prayed. The phone rang and rang.
I know I am not the only one who has very much enjoyed Frank Visakay's stories recently. I'm really looking forward to this story unfolding over the next few months.